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Coming to America: New York Harbor, October 2001

In 2001, as a 40 year-old mom, I signed on as crew to a historic voyage across the Atlantic by three authentic tall ships. SEA TREK was meant to commemorate the emigration of tens of thousands of LDS converts in the mid-nineteenth century, which was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a seafaring fanatic and family history enthusiast like me.

However, during the actual
crossing, the horrendous 9/11 ripped Sea Trek's plans apart. In fact, when my ship, the Norwegian Statsraad Lemkuhl, sailed out of Bermudan waters, it was up in the air whether we would be allowed to sail down the Hudson, past Ground Zero to anchor in New York harbor. Word eventually reached us that the port authority would make an exception for us, although the other Sea Trek events, planned for the public upon our arrival, would be cancelled.

On our
sixth day out of Bermuda, we spruced up the Lehmkuhl, wanting her to be gorgeous for her first appearance in America in decades. Very early that morning I had shot up the stairs, hoping to sight other ships at sunrise, and I kept myself on deck, shining the Lehmkuhl's brass until it reflected like a mirror. At last, after a solemn sail past a smoldering Ground Zero, we spotted what we had come for: a tiny Statue of Liberty.

The ship
drew closer and closer to the city until by nightfall, we had anchored only three miles off of Battery Park. Lighted Liberty cast her glow upon us and electrified the ship. We were in America! Many of my shipmates had come all the way from Europe; others had left their U.S. homes two months ago. To help celebrate, The Coast Guard and New York City Police boats, as our only companions that night, delivered dozens of New York pizzas.

Soon after, a dance commenced on deck. With the Manhattan skyline serving as backdrop on one side and with Lady Liberty on the other, boisterous music filled the expanse in between, wafting across the water into the warm October air. Normally a crowd of private boats wanting to join our reverie would have surrounded us, but tonight, in a traumatized America, we partied alone. Even so, our spirits could not be squelched: the surreal aspect of dancing together aboard a tall ship, beside the Statue of Liberty, with the memories of the last several days and weeks behind us and the anticipation of the next day ahead of us was thrilling. Patriotism, memories, friendship, and accomplishment made an exhilarating brew.

Our Fourth-of-July-in-the-Fall finally climaxed about midnight when the DJ spun a popular and perfectly appropriate tune for the last dance. Everyone's lungs nearly burst as threw our arms in the air and billowed along with Neil Diamond: "They're coming to America TODAY!" Pride and gratitude filled our hearts like never before: our ancestors had come --and now we had come -- to beautiful, wondrous, AMERICA!


Mona muses inspirational every Sunday at Mona's Gospel Musings and preaches romance in marriage at Mona's Musings with a Hint of Romance. She is the mother of four plus three, grandmother of two, and the award-winning author or With Mine Own Hand: The Musical Account of Nephi. For a daily Hint of Romance, go to Mona's Musings on Facebook. You can also experience more of the Sea Trek adventure at Mona's My Very Own Voyage.

Photography by Mona

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